If you’re an author, I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the ‘author platform.’ Every book publicist, publisher, distributor, literary agent, etc. will tell you – a book’s success depends largely on the author’s platform. So what is the author platform? And, more importantly, how do you build yours?
The author platform is often the heart of a book publicity campaign. It is, essentially, a list of the author’s credentials in areas that pertain to the content of the book. The author platform may be strengthened by career or life experiences, club and association affiliations, education credentials, and testimonials, among others. An author’s platform establishes credibility for his or her book. You may have the best financial self-help book around but without author credentials, the media and your consumer may not take a second look and your book publicity campaign may suffer. You’ve heard us say it before: “You can’t interview a book.” Thus, the author’s platform, or background, must speak for the book in order to help spark awareness.
So, how do you build your author platform? Here are three tips to get you started:
1) Write what you know: While it might seem like an obvious tip, you’d be surprised how many people step outside of their ‘comfort’ zone to write about things their background doesn’t quite support. Even if it’s a novel, the main themes and plotline should definitely be relevant to your area of expertise! For example, are you an educator? Incorporate an education theme or teacher/student bond into your novel. This will allow your publicist to incorporate ‘real life’ information into your book publicity campaign and position you for interview opportunities.
Writing about what you know helps establish your author platform, incorporate your background into the content of the book and, ultimately, allows your book to reinforce your message because a book simply cannot speak for itself!
2) Pitch to your local media: Local media is most receptive to local authors and their books since coverage of either is relevant and ‘newsworthy’ to their audience. Approach your local media with a copy of your book, a tailored cover letter, and a book release. In your cover letter, make sure you stress that you are a local author and give the editor ideas on how they can incorporate your book/you into their outlet. Perhaps they could run an author profiling story on how you came to write the book. Or they may consider mentioning your book in a local highlights section. Remember, media results build upon themselves and soliciting media runs adds strength to your author platform.
3) Join clubs and organizations: By associating yourself with clubs and organizations that pertain to the content of your book, you’re helping to round out the promotional package. Remember, a book publicity campaign is strongly supported by the author’s credentials. Pull out the main themes in your book – yes, even novels! – and research local clubs and organizations in your area that may tie into them. If your publicist has the opportunity to tie your affiliation with the local SPCA into the promotion for your novel about a family’s beloved dog, your author platform will grow – and so will the appeal for your book.
Corinne Liccketto is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Smith Publicity, Inc. Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity is one of the world’s leading promotional firms, specializing in book publicity. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, the company has worked with over 900 individuals and companies–from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and businesses representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international with offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, and London. For more information about Smith Publicity, Inc., please visit www.smithpublicity.com.
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